Pedestrian Chronicles

Pedestrian Chronicles: Another Urban Upgrade on 2nd Ave.

Latest city micropark set to open tomorrow.

By Josh Feit December 2, 2014

UPDATE: The micropark opened this afternoon:


In September, the city opened a protected bike lane on the east side of 2nd Ave. between Pike and Pioneer Square. Tomorrow, as part of the city's micropark program, 2nd Ave. is getting another curbside upgrade.

Five parking spots adjacent to the Elysian brew pub on the bottom floor of the Chromer Building between Pine and Pike will be converted into the city's latest micropark; microparks or "parklets" are mini-parks where public right of way, traditionally reserved for cars, gets redesigned into hang out hubs for pedestrians. (You may have heard about SDOT's Park(ing) day where people take over parking spots and set up mini-parks for a day—I did a SwaPARK in September. But the Chromer Parklet will be one of the city's permanent microparks.)

There were 1,107 total vehicles counted between 5 pm and 6 pm. In comparison, there were 3,288 people walking through the intersection at the same time.  

Skeptical about converting spots for cars into spots for peds? Check out this statistic from 2nd Ave. SDOT collected data at 2nd & Pike during the evening peak in May and here's what they found: There were 1,107 total vehicles counted between 5 pm and 6 pm. In comparison, there were 3,288 people walking through the intersection.  

The Chromer Parklet will be the first micropark to open downtown. Currently there are four microparks citywide: One in the International District by the Oasis Tea Zone on 6th Ave. S.; one on Capitol Hill on Olive Way by the Montana Bar; one at Molly Moon's in Wallingford; and one in the Central District at 24th and Union adjacent to the Cortona Cafe.

They take all sorts of forms, but the basic idea is to create a space for pedestrians. There are ten more in the works, including one outside the Uptown SIFF movie theater in Queen Anne, one in Hillman City at the Tin Umbrella Coffee Roaster, and one outside the Lost Lake Cafe on 10th in Capitol Hill (which is ruffling some feathers internally at SDOT because the idea is to extend the sidewalk into the street so that the current sidewalk space can be used for outdoor seating at Lost Lake). 

Micorparks are not extensions of businesses (there's no table service from the business, for example).

In this pilot phase, parklet projects do need sign off from the adjacent business, though. A planned parklet a few blocks west of the Cortona Cafe Parklet got scrapped when Chuck's Hop Shop pulled out.)

The Chromer Parklet, sponsored by property owner Greg Smith and designed by urbanist architecture firm Gustafon Guthrie Nichol (the subject of a previous Pedestrian Chronicles), features a series of connected stage risers that will cater to Pike Place Market's cadre of buskers.

Smith sees the 2nd Ave. parklet as an extension of the pedestrian street-life atmosphere at the Pike Place Market. In a statement, Smith said: “The proximity to Pike Place Market and other Downtown attractions makes this a great spot. Our neighborhood will continue to gain a sense of community with public spaces like this one, we’re really excited that the City of Seattle is behind this project.”

Sponsors are responsible for building and maintaining their parklets. SDOT estimates they cost between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on your ambitions, to build.  For example, taking up five slots ended up costing Smith $80,000. 

Full disclosure: Smith was an original investor in PubliCola six years ago. PubliCola was bought by Seattle Met in 2012 and Smith is no longer affiliated with the site. 



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